|Evelyn Hart's dramatic stage presence makes for a potent mix.|
To describe "Riches Brought" by its title would be an understatement. The evening's program by Duo Concertante reminded me of why we so love and so need music. It was a veritable bumper crop of enveloping emotions. We were uplifted, engaged, soothed and satisfied. The program was wide-ranging from Bach to Broadway (via Ira and George Gershwin) for the first half and Maples and the Stream, which comprised the second half of the evening, was soul stirring.
Earlier in the evening, the composer of Maples and the Stream, Vincent Ho, was interviewed by Andrew Staniland. This was a rare opportunity not just to hear a composer speak about his music but an opportunity to ask questions as well. Members of the public commented to me during intermission that they came away from the discussion with a greater appreciation of the creative process. Ho speaks in very down to earth ways about his conceptual work that invites the public into his creative world of contemporary music. The give and take of discussion makes a greater impact than more formal presentations.
Maples and the Stream was commissioned by Duo Concertante from Vincent Ho and was first performed in Ottawa in 2013 with Evelyn Hart as narrator. Hart brings a potent mix of narration and gesture to the stage that I would call docu-dance. Along with the poetic text the performance on Monday night had a profound expressiveness that did not shy away from its difficult, and at times painful, topic.
Here's what Ho has said about his selection of theme and poetry:
When I discovered Lien’s poems, they immediately resonated with me. As a 2nd-generation Chinese Canadian, I knew all too well the struggles my own parents went through when they immigrated to Canada. So when it came to composing the music, I already had an experiential foundation to draw from.
Each poem depicts a scenario from differing points of Lien’s journey – beginning with her early experiences in China, to the change in the country’s political atmosphere, and finally to her arrival in Canada. My aim was to capture the emotional and cultural transition Lien had made in musical form.